Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ripping the Mask Off

The horns of evil have landed squarely on skulls of the anti-marriage equality forces. Up in Maine today, the Judiciary Committee has a long, packed (about 2500) hearing in the Augusta Civic Center.

Little gangs of pro and con same-sex marriage citizens have taken turns testifying in 3-minute-per flurries on LD 1020. That bill would legalize SSM.

While a current poll finds Mainers about split on support of SSM, a large majority favors either SSM or civil unions. Only 23% oppose any legal recognition for homosexual couples.

From the looks of the civic-center crowd, 1020 supporters have the day. Many are wearing red to indicate that, and the audience is very red.

I've been listening to the testimony and find it as moving as that in New Hampshire. The pro side has mixed emotional pulls, researched positions, philosophy and legal reasoning. Some of the speakers could make a statue cry. One spoke of her dying partner of many decades fretting and working with her to protect their daughter by enabling an adoption before death came from cancer. They were able to jet into California in that small span when they could legally marry. For 24 hours, they lived their decades old dream.

Dr. Daniel Summers of the Maine Chapter of the American Pediatric Association debunked anti-1020 claims of the damage to families of SSM. He also concluded, "No good comes to children by denying their parents the right to marry."

Attorney General Janet T. Mills noted that some call for civil unions instead of SSM. She said that "civil unions are unnecessarily complicated (and) inherently unfair.

A heterosexual man typified his groups support by saying that we and his wife "..don't measure the sanctity of our marriage against the relationships of others."

Our own Sen. Marian Walsh spoke for SSM. As well as being a Roman Catholic, she has a masters in theology, by the bye. She listed the many sources she sought after the Goodridge decision and said she turned around. Among her conclusions were, "To objectify any American by their sexuality is immoral."

Ugliness Under Public Masks

In contrast, the anti folk were either dishonest or purely emotional in the main. They even heard from the border-jumping Mad Dad from Lexington, Massachusetts, who retold his blatant lies about his civil-disobedience arrest. An attorney couldn't let that stand and noted that he insisted on being arrested and then paraded about as victim.

Similarly, several anti-1020 folk dragged the red herring of religious persecution if SSM passes. Despite reams of evidence of Massachusetts, Canada and other countries to the contrary, they used the old just-wait-and-see emotive appeal. One of their group extended the call by saying the bill did not protect non-clerical Mainers, who he said should have the right to act on their religious beliefs. Another attorney could not let that stand, noting that existing laws as well as 1020 protect clerics and that what he was asking was relief from having to obey the anti-discrimination laws in accommodation and elsewhere.

As the afternoon wore on the mic stayed hot, some anti-1020 types said that SSM would give homosexuals unfettered access to children leading to molestation. The most crackpot Biblical references were followed by discredited statistics, even the wheezer about gay men living as much as 20 fewer years and other Americans.

Unlike New Hampshire's testimony, Maine's had more abject lying by commission and omission. I suddenly realized that this dovetailed tightly with the Salon forum on SSM comment that the Republicans who try to use this as a wedge issue lose voters' hearts. Consider pollster Anna Greenberg's "And there is a real danger that this sort of further marginalizes and typecasts Republicans as the mean party."

Hasn't it come to that in much of America already and likely nationwide? Listening to the intellectually and emotionally moving pro-SSM testimony today, I wondered about the cruel eagerness to harm others by imposing their particular and peculiar religious ideas and feelings.

It appears more Americans see the meanness and that cruelty. We've noted the surprisingly vigorous movements toward SSM in Iowa, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Maine just recently. We've seen the dwindling power and seemingly membership of anti-equality groups such as Maine Family Policy Council (formerly CCL of Maine) and Massachusetts Family Institute. This almost certainly results from even self-proclaimed traditionalists recognizing the deceit and nastiness of those opposing marriage equality.

This must surely fall in the pathetic class. Some SSM opponents may well be sincere in believing that their churches require them to oppose homosexuality in various forms. Others make a living by rabble rousing and getting donations from those responding to their lies and emotional calls. The first seem to be falling away after the displays of lack of compassion and illogic. The latter organizations hang in and keep up their dirty tricks. They are increasingly seen for the ugliness beneath their public masks.

Early PM Follow-Up: The Portland Press Herald highlighted and illustrated a few of those testifying this morning. The Bangor Daily News recap is here.

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